Radiation study at a lab in Hamburg, Germany, has confirmed the painting -- titled Still Life with Meadow Flowers and Roses -- was painted over an earlier work depicting two half-naked wrestlers that Van Gogh had done as an art student in Antwerp, Belgium, NewScientist.com reported Monday.
The painting is in the Kroller-Muller Museum in the Netherlands, which holds more than half of the known Van Gogh paintings. The museum was never sure it was by Van Gogh -- it was unlike his other floral still life works, in that the canvas was much bigger than usual and the flowers in the foreground were much brighter than normal for Van Gogh.
Since 2003, the museum has listed the painting as being by an anonymous artist.
Van Gogh painted the wrestlers as a homework assignment at the Antwerp academy in 1885. The canvas size was larger than other Van Gogh's painting because the academy required its students to do large works, historians say.
A few months later Van Gogh brought the wrestlers painting to Paris where he did the floral still life over it without even scraping any of the old paint away, researchers discovered. The flowers were bright and ostentatious because they had to cover an entire half-naked wrestler.
The radiation study confirmed the pigments matched Van Gogh's at the time and revealed his characteristic brush strokes.